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Mechanical regulation of chondrogenesis

Christopher J O’Conor12, Natasha Case1 and Farshid Guilak12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, 375 MSRB Box 3093, Durham, NC 27710, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:61  doi:10.1186/scrt211

Published: 1 July 2013


Mechanical factors play a crucial role in the development of articular cartilage in vivo. In this regard, tissue engineers have sought to leverage native mechanotransduction pathways to enhance in vitro stem cell-based cartilage repair strategies. However, a thorough understanding of how individual mechanical factors influence stem cell fate is needed to predictably and effectively utilize this strategy of mechanically-induced chondrogenesis. This article summarizes some of the latest findings on mechanically stimulated chondrogenesis, highlighting several new areas of interest, such as the effects of mechanical stimulation on matrix maintenance and terminal differentiation, as well as the use of multifactorial bioreactors. Additionally, the roles of individual biophysical factors, such as hydrostatic or osmotic pressure, are examined in light of their potential to induce mesenchymal stem cell chondrogenesis. An improved understanding of biomechanically-driven tissue development and maturation of stem cell-based cartilage replacements will hopefully lead to the development of cell-based therapies for cartilage degeneration and disease.

Osteoarthritis; Cartilage defect; Scaffold; Tissue engineering; Mesenchymal stem cell; Adipose stem cell; Regeneration; Synovial joint; Ion channel; Mechanical signal transduction